I discovered an acronym today that is used by IT support types to indicate that the problem is with the user rather than the computer – PEBCAC, or ‘problem exists between computer and chair’. An alternative version is PEBCAK, or ‘problem exists between keyboard and chair’.

Related acronyms I found in the Urban Dictionary include PEBE, or ‘problem exists between ears’; PEBLARE, or ‘problem exists between left and right ear’, and PEBKAF, or ‘problem exists between keypad and floor’ (used by security companies to describe user error).

Have you heard or used any of these? Or any related ones?

This entry was posted in English, Language.

6 Responses to PEBCAC

  1. bulbul says:

    PEBKAC is the version I know. Are you familiar with the Jargon File? It’s a veritable classic of programming, geek and nerd vocab.

  2. BrightLance says:

    I’ve heard PEBKAC and Id-Ten-T (ID10T) used, but rarely seen them written.

  3. Mut says:

    I also knew the version PEBKAC. Some people use it in French too (although I guess most French people wouldn’t understand it), and there’s even a French website called PEBKAC ( with anecdotes about people who can’t use a computer properly.

  4. Di says:

    The version I have heard is PICNIC – Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.

  5. Andrew says:

    Something similar. For patients who don’t need medicine but insist on it: Obecalp . It’s “placebo” spelled backwards :)


  6. Petréa Mitchell says:

    I’m a computer programmer, and I’m familiar with the first two acronyms, but I don’t use them. As one of my big professional interests is usability and human-computer interaction in general, I’m usually the person trying to explain how the user is not at fault. Computer people tend to be far too ready to blame humans when the problem is poorly designed software.

    (In Dave Barry’s Guide to Computers he memorably defines “user” as “the word computer professionals use when they mean ‘idiot’.”)